Upstate NY Grocery Store Puzzler: Where Are Grandma Brown’s Baked Beans?
Upstate New Yorkers are fiercely protective of Grandma Brown's Baked Beans and will argue with anyone who doesn't like them that they're simply wrong.
Since 1937, Grandma Brown's Baked Beans have been served at family gatherings all over Upstate New York but this holiday season, that might not be the case.
Upstate New Yorkers were introduced to Grandma Browns Baked Beans when Grandma Lulu Brown made huge pots of baked beans for her local grocery store to sell during the Great Depression. The people who lived in Grandma Brown's town of Mexico, New York loved her beans so much that Grandma Brown's husband Earl, and son Robert decided to start selling them in Oswego.
A year later, in 1938, Grandma Brown's husband Earl passed away and that is when a man named Richard Whitney decided to join Grandma's baked bean-making business which officially had a name - BWB which stood for Brown, Whitney, Brown. Today, the company is called Grandma Brown's Beans, Inc.
The baked bean business grew so large that the Browns and Whitney opened a plant where Grandma Brown's beans could be made in mass quantity and canned.
Today, the company holds tight to its old-fashioned roots and has zero social media presence. Grandma Brown's Baked Beans doesn't even have a website and, the company which operates out of Mexico, New York doesn't even have a flashy building. Instead, the building is easy to miss with its company name in small lettering.
The face on the cans of Grandma Brown's Baked Beans does in fact belong to Grandma Brown and not to a random person and the label hasn't changed since it was introduced in 1955. Grandma Brown died at the age of 75 in 1950 but her legacy continues and her descendants did their best to keep her product on store shelves, however, there are no more to be found.
In November of 2021, News10NBC out of Rochester decided to try to get to the bottom of why store shelves are empty of Grandma Brown's Baked Beans, and when they visited the company, Sandra Brown, company owner and president said she was too busy trying to catch up on production to stop and talk. According to News10NBC Brown, "didn't tell us why there's still such a limited supply — equipment issues, staffing — nothing."
In May of 2022, Brown spoke again, this time to say that she still wanted to start up production but that she couldn't find and retain enough employees to make that happen. And here we are, another holiday without our favorite beans.
If you simply can't fathom Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner without Grandma Brown's Baked Beans, you might be able to pull one over on your guests with this knock-off recipe. Don't worry, we won't tell your secret.